Aizawl, Feb 20: Aizawl FC maintained their unbeaten record at home with a 1-0 win over East Bengal in a 10th round I-League match at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Monday.
R. Laldanmawia, who replaced Ashutosh Mehta in the Aizawl squad, scored the winner in the 58th minute.
The win took Aizawl to 20 points from 10 matches. They are now within sniffing distance of Kolkata giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan who jointly lead the table with 21 points each. However, Mohun Bagan have played nine matches, one less than East Bengal.
Monday’s loss also put an end to East Bengal’s unbeaten run in the current I-League season. Mohun Bagan are now the only team not to have tasted defeat in this edition of the I-league so far.
Just three minutes into the match, Haitian Wedson Anselme’s volley with his left foot from the left flank crashed on to the woodwork to the relief of Aizawl FC goalkeeper Albino Gomes.
As the game picked up pace, the home team started to domite, attacking from both flanks.
Towards the end of the first half, Aizawl missed what could have easily been the first goal of the match as Laldanmawia’s volley flew high over the crossbar.
Brandon’s striking delivery from the left was cleared by Bukenya, but Laldanmawia failed to convert the ball which came his way.
Bukenya saved his team a few minutes later as he thwarted Al-Am’s attempt for the back of the net. Bukenya was kept busy by Aizawl towards the end of the first half.
In the 43rd minute, Kamo received the ball inside the box but was defeated once again by Bukenya.
Bukenya again interfered with Alfred Jaryan’s free kick moments before the whistle blew for halftime, with the first half coming to an end goalless.
Aizawl eventually made their domition count in the second half as they grabbed the opportunity to take the lead.
To the ecstasy of the huge home crowd, Laldanmawia lobbed the ball over East Bengal custodian T.P. Rehenesh following a cross from the left by Jayesh Rane.
East Bengal tried hard to stage a comeback but their repeated attacks were foiled by the Aizawl defence.
East Bengal striker Robin Singh came close to finding the net after finding himself at the receiving end of a cross from Rahul Bheke, delivery but his header jammed into Albino’s gloves.
East Bengal kept the Aizawl FC boys on their toes towards the end, but eventually, the home team had the last laugh. IANS